Survivor can be a brutal game and sometimes it seems a foregone conclusion who will be targeted first before the game even begins. First impressions can be decisive and throughout the years we've seen many last place finishers who follow an established trend of being either elderly, challenge liabilities or socially awkward and look perfectly at home in the first boot club. However there are always exceptions to the rule and many first boots looked like they were set up to make it far in the game based on appearances, profession and previous experience in the case of returnees. Join Ozlet Jarrod Loobeek as he brings you his list of ten players who don't seem to fit in with their last place compatriots. Read on to find out the top 10 unexpected first boots.
10. Marisa Calihan – Samoa
During her short time in the game Marisa made it clear she was there to play the game in Samoa. Based on looks along Marisa may not have been the most unexpected first boot but she showed a whole lot of potential and a willingness to play aggressively during the first 3 days. Her intuition regarding Russel was absolutely correct and on a season without him there’s every chance that Marisa makes it far as a strong female player and character.
9. Darnell Hamilton – Kaoh Rong
Going into Kaoh Rong many tipped Darnell to make it very deep in the game or at the very least make the merge. His pre-season press was all positive and he came across as the type of player who would easily forge connections with his tribe mates and be a real social threat that manoeuvred his way effortlessly through the game. Indeed in addition to the mask fiasco Darnell’s perception as a threat contributed to him becoming the first boot of Kaoh Rong dashing many fan’s pre season predictions and first boot bets in episode one.
8. Nadiya Anderson – San Juan del Sur
While the twins definitely came into Survivor with a target on their back given their Amazing Race history, it felt the reality tv experience would help rather than hinder them. Just 2 seasons earlier Hayden successfully made the leap to Survivor and while Big Brother is probably a lot more similar to Survivor and Hayden is a lot more subdued than the at times obnoxious ‘twinnies’ history was in their favour. Natalie and Nadiya had proved themselves adept at strategy on the amazing race and looked likely to at least make it through the initial portion of the game and provide plenty of fireworks when they met up later in the game. Natalie’s win sheds some light on what could have been for Nadiya but instead in a Francesca style defeat Nadiya coupled her last place on The Amazing Race 24 with a first boot out on Survivor.
7. Ryan Aiken – The Amazon
Entering it’s 6th season at the time of Survivor The Amazon, every previous first boot had been 40 years or older. Therefore, going into the season it seemed set in stone that the first player voted out was going to be a challenge liability further down the line or somebody who failed to fit in with their younger more laid back cast members. While Ryan’s boot made sense given his poor performance in the opening immunity challenge, going into the game Ryan himself and the viewers wouldn’t have dreamed of him being the first player to be voted out. Ryan’s vote out was the first major deviation from the expected first boots and a definite surprise given his age and fitness.
6. Rupert Boneham – Blood vs. Water
While it felt like Rupert could have somewhat of a target on his back going into Blood vs. Water, it seemed unlikely he’d be the first boot given the makeup of the returnee tribe and his past performances in the game. With the likes of Colton on Galang and the inexperience of the newbie Tadhana tribe, before the reveal of the day zero vote it seemed certain that Rupert would survive the dreaded 20th position. It’s likely such a twist was put in place with a player like Rupert in mind but with the added security of redemption island it still felt unlikely we’d witness Rupert as the first player taken out of the game. However, fast forward a couple of days and that’s exactly what happened. A major fan favourite and huge character in the history of the show Rupert going home first was a major shock.
5. Tina Scheer – Panama
Tina has a longer Survivor story than most first boots having originally been cast on Survivor Guatemala before having to withdraw after the death of her son. As a keen outdoorswoman, Tina looked like the type of player who would excel at the survival aspect of the game and be a key asset to any tribe early in the game. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for thinking the age and sex divide of Survivor Panama would have highlighted Tina’s value in the challenges and as a provider amongst a small group of ‘older woman’. Unfortunately for Tina while her resume on paper was impressive, she failed to make the necessary social connections to survive on a small tribe and became an easy target for the more socially astute players.
4. Jonathan Libby – Palau
One of a couple of alpha male entries on this list, Palau’s schoolyard pick twist was truly harsh to Wanda and Jonathan. However, while Wanda is a more conventional first boot given her age and eccentricities, it was surprising that a young fit male like Jonathan wasn’t selected to be a part of either tribe. Purely based on appearances Jonathan seemed like the type of guy to be snapped up early given the value of his strength in the challenges and when the final choice was between himself and Willard he must have felt like a shoe in. It was later revealed that he rubbed people the wrong way during the initial days of the game but going home before the first tribal council is something Jonathan wouldn’t even have imagined.
3. Francesca Hogi – Caramoan
It was surprising to see Francesca return after being the first boot in Redemption Island, particularly on a tribe of supposed ‘favourites’ but nevertheless she was back for Caramoan. While we’d seen a two-time winner in Sandra it seemed unlikely that we’d ever witness a two time first boot and despite having a rocky history with Philip, it didn’t seem possible that Francesca would being voted off first yet again. While other first boots seem to have no real grasp on the game, Francesca seemed a fairly sound player who if given the chance could excel at all portions of the game. However, the unthinkable came true as Francesca’s nightmare came true when she was taken out after the favourites lost the first challenge. I know I was in complete awe at the fact that given such low odds Francesca was sent home first yet again.
2. Brook Geraghty – Vanuatu
Perhaps given Survivor Amazon we should have expected age to become a factor in a male vs. female season but Brook’s boot in Vanuatu felt even more surprising than Ryan’s 3 seasons earlier. In a similar fashion to Survivor Amazon we had a failure on the balance beam portion of the opening challenge however this time it wasn’t the player booted with eventual winner Chris struggling and seemingly like the obvious boots. Even of the younger men Brook was neither largely cocky or socially awkward and he was simply a victim of the older men banding together against the young. Truly an unexpected first boot.
1. Vytas Baskauskas – Cambodia
Largely praised for his game in Blood vs. Water and tipped by many to go far again, Vytas stepped on the beach in Cambodia probably not even dreaming he’d be the first boot. On the surface it looked like Vytas was in a position to excel with links to both new school and old school players given the recency of his first season and the Aras link to Terry Deitz. Not only did Vytas have plenty of potential allies but with the likes of Kass and Abi-Maria in the game it seemed certain a major trouble maker would be targeted. Even in terms of threats there were much bigger targets in Joe from Worlds Apart or the intimidation factor of having four Cagayan returnees which made Vytas going home first an unexpected affair.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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